To The Editor,

Being a “senior” of 75, a resident for 47 and retired, I decided to attend the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on January 21.  The prime issue that evening was to approve the $1.2 million dollar “option to purchase agreement” (subject to approval of funding at Town Meeting) for the Baptist Cornerstone Church property on lower School St. (#20).  

Given my age, I am not against resolving some of the space issues for my fellow “seniors.” However, recent tax increases and long neglected infrastructure needs (road repaving, sewer, etc.), have convinced me that this undertaking is not a prudent use of OUR TAX PAYER’S MONEY. Emotionally it feels right but financially it falls short.

The real questions are:

  1. Does the Town realistically need this additional property or is this only an emotional reaction to the Church’s offering?
  2. If purchased, the projected renovations costs ($1 mil +) will supposedly be funded by “donations” from interested benefactors. What if the donations fall short?  We pay?
  3. Has anyone calculated the Town’s projected annual maintenance costs for: staffing, cleaning, heating, electricity, and interior/exterior painting (old wood clapboards)?
  4. Where will the seniors park, since parking is limited and congested?  How far will they have to walk to their cars?
  5. How many “seniors” currently use existing programs sponsored by the Council on Aging and what are the activities and how many hours in the week ?

The alternative:

  1. Evaluate the real need for the Council on Aging and determine if current locations within the town can be improved / expanded.
  2. Let the Church sell the property independently, thus adding the property onto the tax rolls for the FIRST TIME.
  3. If the property were converted to “condos”, this would provide long needed attractive “downtown” units for “downsizing” seniors.
  4. Parking congestion would be dramatically reduced on the “tight” end of lower School St. and thus improve traffic safety.

The bottom line is that although the availability of the Cornerstone Church property sounds inviting, the purchase cost, the cost of renovations, the annual upkeep and actual usage, do not justify the town’s consideration at this time. 

Sincerely,

Stuart V Conant